Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.”

LAO TZUSo tonight the moon is half hidden by a little cloud – but it is a still and beautiful evening. It is a true ‘grimshaw’ (see below for explanation) moon ….

Back in the nature – back in the mountains – a privilege after days in the cities. The music of the soul can again play. Or that’s how it feels. I wonder if the universe hears ….?

So – after leaving the UK, I went to Koln/Cologne to compete in the city marathon there. Just one week after the 50km time trial it was maybe too much to hope for a PB. The conditions were wet, very windy and street after street after street …. 2:52 (6th woman and 1st in my category) … so the PB waits for the next time?! And then a series of talks/presentations for TECOSIM in Russelsheim, Stuttgart and Munich. I hope they were worthwhile for the company – I’ll be happy if in some small way I could open a door for someone into a new world. But traveling to a new city each night – for me – it’s sort of more tiring than being out on the mountain all day!

Onwards to the Austrian Tirol – there I was happy again to be in the nature – this time to experience a ‘press trip’ writing an article about the Tour de Tirol for Athletics Weekly. It is certainly a very beautiful region and we were treated to a stunning autumnal weekend. An autumnal celebration of running: the warmth of the autumn sun, the vividness of the autumn colours against a blue sky, the clear crisp mountain air, the silhouette of the mountains against a moonlit sky and the warmest welcome you could hope for!

The 3rd edition of this Tour de Tirol has only served to strengthen its position to become a classic event and it well deserves the honour of hosting the World Long Distance Mountain Challenge in 2009. The Tour consists of a series of three races; a 10 km on the Friday evening, followed by a marathon on the Saturday (with about 1616 m ascent and 460 m descent over the classic course of 42.195 km), and a flat half marathon on the Sunday. It can be completed in its entirety, or any number or combination of the three races. It has something for everyone – whether you are aiming to enter your first 10km or half marathon, if you are keen to try your first mountain marathon, or whether you take the challenge of completing all three races (73 km). The Tour welcomes all runners – novice, elite and anything in between. But for the elite there is the ultimate challenge of performing well in some very different disciplines of running – a fast 10km, a mountain marathon, and a fast half-marathon – and churning out those performances on consecutive days. A small British contingent gave sterling performances and their enthusiasm was great to see. I have grown over the last couple of years to really love these mountain races that inspire you on to try (and sometimes, just sometimes, to achieve …) more than you thought possible. So it meant a lot to me to see that an event like this is a special experience for other runners from the UK. For myself it was a mixture of frustration and the joy of just being in the mountains again. I competed in the 10 km and half marathon – but with the 100 km World Championships fast approaching I couldn’t get permission from UKathletics (despite being an independent athlete without UKA funding) to compete in the full Tour. Having run on the mountains all summer the focus must now be on training again on the flat. Feeling a little the effects of a bit of flu, I was disappointed not to perform as well as I could have done – and my heart bled not to be part of the marathon and so the entire ‘Tour’ – but the welcome from the organisers, the Tourist Office in Soll, the other runners, and all the supporters was something very special that I will not forget. I hope very much that in 2009 I can compete in the Tour in its entirety – including the challenge of the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge.

Now an oasis of calm – two nights with friends in the Graubunden on my way back to Winterthur. The autumnal colours really are something very special in the mountains …. And just now we have a brief return to warm sunshine before the first real snows herald the start of winter. Tonight in the city and then tomorrow to Zermatt ….. Two weeks in the one place and waking to the mountains – it will be a treat!

http://www.tourdetirol.com/

http://www.atkinsongrimshaw.co.uk/

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